January 2004 Issue

FOOD FUN FACT: Overhaul Your Pantry
CHRISTI'S COMMENTARY: My Opinion on the Diet Craze
FOOD CORNER: Winter Foods - Beets
UPCOMING EVENTS: Winter Events - check out what's new!

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Chances are, your pantry is overflowing with foods that do not support your body. I have gradually phased a lot of these foods out of my kitchen, and just recently helped my favorite clients (my parents) do the same thing!  I'd like to invite you to go on a virtual pantry tour with me.  I'll point out a few foods that won't support your efforts to stay healthy and maintain an ideal body weight.  Then I'll suggest healthier alternatives.

Foods You Should Replace:

- White bread (try 100% whole wheat - it tastes better and keeps you full!)

- Regular pasta (buy 100% whole wheat, soba, or rice noodles)

- Cereals that list sugar in the first 3 ingredients (I try to find cereals with < 5 grams sugar, and I add maple syrup and cinnamon if I need sweetness)

- White sugar (use 100% maple syrup, raw honey, stevia, or brown rice syrup)

- Frozen diet meals that contain artificial ingredients and lots of salt (try organic frozen meals made by "Amy's" instead)

- Bleached white flour (replace with wheat flour, spelt flour, or rice flour)

- Vegetable oil and Crisco (replace with olive oil, sesame oil, coconut oil, or ghee)

- Skippy or Jiffy peanut butters (replace with organic nut butters like Teddy's which do not contain added sugar and hydrogenated oils)

- Cookies, crackers, chips and sweets that contain high fructose corn syrup, aspartame, or partially hydrogenated oils (try TLC crackers by Kashi or Terra chips instead)

If you would like help overhauling your pantry, I invite you to attend one of my health food store tours (details included in the "Events" section).  If you don't live in the Boston area, I would be happy to conduct a virtual pantry overhaul with you by phone or refer you to a Holistic Health Counselor in your local area.

Have you noticed that everyone seems to start a diet in January? South Beach and Atkins are everywhere this year!  I like how most diets make people pay attention to the food they put in their mouths.  I also like how certain diets make the distinction between processed foods and whole foods, as well as "good carbs" and "not-so-good carbs." 

But that's where my approval ends. I don't believe in diets.  Here's why:

If it was as simple as the diet books claim, we would all be thin and happy. Instead, we torture ourselves through years of what I call The Diet Roller Coaster.  We go from diet to diet, convinced that - once we find one that works - we can drop the pounds and then... finally... be happy.  We stake our self-worth on the scale. If it moves up, then we're not worth anything. We beat ourselves up if we don't follow the unrealistic diet rules we set for ourselves.  We spend more time obsessing about the scale than we do our overall health. And we do it time and time again.  What a vicious, abusive cycle!

Why Do Diets Work?
I admit, almost all diets work... at first.  This is because we go gung ho when we start a diet.  Once we start eating what the diet calls for (less calories, less sweets, less fats, and less processed foods), our bodies respond fairly quickly.  Often, this first batch of lost weight is mostly water weight.  But it's enough to boost our confidence and convince us that this diet is the one to stick with for life.

Unfortunately, for every diet we try... we inevitably fail.  We fall off the wagon.  We lapse.  We cheat.  This "failure" makes us feel like we just didn't try hard enough... we don't have enough will power... or we just haven't found the right diet yet.

What If No Diet Will Ever Work for You?

I'd like to suggest that in order to get to your ideal body weight - and maintain it for life - you must give up on diets completely.  You have to get off the diet roller coaster, and instead, create a way of eating that works for you.  Everytime you "fail" a diet, that's your body's way of telling you that restriction, rules, and tasteless meal plans are not working! 

Diets don't take into consideration the fact that we all have unique metabolisms, backgrounds, jobs, stress levels, fitness routines, food cravings, and taste buds.  A mass marketed diet will not help us eat well for a lifetime - a lifetime diet should be more personalized and flexible, so it can change as our lives and bodies change.

I help my clients create a way of eating that is built on three philosophies:

1. There is no such thing as a "good food" or a "bad food."

2. The food you eat should support your body and soul (and yes, sometimes those foods include chocolate and ice cream!)

3. The way of eating that works for you today will most likely not work for you 5 years down the road.

I know that most of my clients would initially like me to give them a meal plan and tell them to follow it.  But to me, that doesn't respect my clients' intelligence.  It doesn't give them the amazing opportunity to do experiments and learn how to listen to the biggest expert out there: their own bodies.

Your Body is the Answer!

Now, I know what you're thinking.   You're convinced that your body would lead you astray.  After all, when given the chance, your body asks for chocolate bars, the entire bag of potato chips, and the whole jar of peanut butter.

But is it really your body that's asking for those foods?  Or is there something else going on?  I believe there are other forces at work when it comes to unhealthy eating.  Food is not the problem - it is your body's solution.  When you eat foods that don't support your body (or when you overeat), chances are, something is out of balance in your life.

Perhaps it's the foods you're eating, which need to be brought back into balance so that you can conquer your cravings.  Or you may be bored, and food is your entertainment.  You may be stressed, and food is your release.  You may be sad or lonely, and food is your comfort companion.  You may be so used to living by "food rules" that you don't know how to trust your body anymore.

Trust me, I've been there.  I used to eat an entire jar of peanut butter in one sitting.  I also used to eat and eat and eat at night without being able to stop.  But when given the chance, my body started to crave good foods.  I began to trust it for the first time in my life.  No food is off limits now, and that kind of freedom is so exhilirating!

If you've struggled with diets in the past, and are frustrated, I can sympathize. I know that you would like a simple, quick answer, but I can't give you one. If it were as simple as limiting calories and eating right, we'd all be thin! 

But just give me a chance to get to know you, your life, and the food you put in your mouth on a regular basis.  Then, we'd have a foundation to work with. Then we'd be able to craft a plan to get you off the diet roller coaster and on to a way of eating that works for you.  If you'd like to give it a shot, just give me a call.  Or send me an email and let me know how you'd like me to explore this topic further in future newsletters. 

If you want to follow a diet like Atkins or South Beach, I simply encourage you to use them as a guide.  Most of the philosophies they preach are sound.  But they need to be tailored to fit your lifestyle and your body.  Learn which foods give you energy, satisfy your taste buds, and "sit well" with your stomach.  Pick and choose from the diet elements to create your own way of eating... one that works for YOU.


Individual Health and Nutrition Counseling
If you are depressed, low in energy, sluggish, or a bit heavier than you'd like... chances are, you're experiencing the "Winter Blues."  To increase your energy, balance your moods, and eat better foods, I invite you to schedule a health consultation with me.  We will go over your health history, evaluate your current diet, and design a personalized program that will put you on the road to optimum health.

I offer in-person and phone consultations.  Receive 50% off if you reply by February 14.  To schedule a consultation: email me or call 617.492.1489 for more info.

Group Nutrition Program For Women Only!
This 6-week program is designed for women who are sick and tired of the New Year's Crash Diet Craze (which never works anyway!).  The gentle, enthusiastic support of the group will help you design a way of eating that gives your body energy, moves you towards your ideal weight, and helps calm your food cravings.  This program is designed for women who want help cooking new foods and redesigning their relationship with food.  We will help each other make fitness, wellness, and healthy food choices a habit that sticks... for good!

Location: Porter Square, Cambridge

Time: 6:30-8:00 p.m. every Wednesday from 2/11 - 3/17

Your investment in your health: $299

To sign up: email me or call 617.492.1489 for more info

Health Food Store Tour
Are you trying to make healthier food choices this year... but feel stuck in a rut and need inspiration?  Are you overwhelmed by health food stores... and want help navigating the aisles?  My ever-popular health food store tours are back!  I'm leading two tours this time, since so many people have signed up already.  Join me for a fun, educational tour of Whole Foods, and I guarantee you will never shop the same again.  Participants will receive a coupon to use after the tour.

Location: Whole Foods, River Street, Cambridge

Date: Monday, January 26

Time: 6:00-7:00 p.m. and 7:15-8:15

Your investment in your health: $15 (free for clients, $10 for TNTers)

To sign up: email me or call 617.492.1489 for more info

"Nourishing Nights"
I am starting a series of "Nourishing Nights" which will bring together clients and guests to explore a specific wellness topic. Is there something you know you should be doing for your health.... but, for some reason, you're just not doing it?  Nourishing Nights will help you make these health goals a reality.  If you've been interested in working with me for a while, but want to "check me out" first... here's your chance. 


Location: Porter Square, Cambridge

Date: Thursday, February 12

Time: 6:30-8:00 p.m.

Your investment in your health: $20 (free for clients, $15 for TNTers)

To sign up: email me or call 617.492.1489 for more info

Winter Food - Beets

Now don't stop reading just because you saw the word "beets!" I think beets get a bad rap. I know a lot of people who had a not-so-great experience with beets as a child, but have learned to love beets when they eat them as adults.

Beets don't have to be slimy things that come out of a can.  They can actually be quite tasty! I know because I'm a newly converted beet fan. Are you willing to give these bright red veggies a second? If so, read on...

This section of Nourishing News identifies foods that serve your body best during each season.  Right now, we're deep in the middle of the winter season (anyone who is living in sub-zero temperatures in the Northeast can attest to that!).

In winter, the temperature drops, the light disappears quickly, and our bodies want to slow down, warm up, and hibernate. Winter is associated with the "water" element, as well as the kidney and bladder.

You may find yourself craving warm, heavy foods like soups, hot chocolate, breads, and meats. Foods that are in season this time of year are grey, deep blue, black, brown, and purple.  Think mushrooms, blueberries, swordfish, blackberries, soy sauce, blue fish, and beets.

The most popular kind of beet is a brilliant reddish/purple color. Beets are very sweet and go well with carrots, sweet potatoes, and onions.  You can also buy beets that are pre-cut and pre-packaged.

Beets cleanse the body and build strong blood.  They strengthen the heart, improve the liver, lubricate the intestines, promote menstruation, and regulate hormones during menopause. They are low in calories (1 beet = 35 calories). They go great in salads, roasted veggie dishes, or soups. Sometimes I leave the skins on when I bake beets.

Most of my clients crave soup this time of year, so I want to share a fast and delicious beet soup recipe with you.  The best part about this soup is its luscious reddish/purple color. Below the soup recipe is a simple recipe for baked beets which makes a great side dish.


Beautiful Beet Borscht
Recipe adapted from The Institute for Integrative Nutrition (serves 4-6)


3 medium beets

1 onion

2 carrots or parsnips

2 stalks celery

1/2 cup minced scallions

3-4 cups water or vegetable stock

1 t. dried dill (or 2 T. fresh)

1/2 to 1 t. sea salt

1/2 t. black pepper

Cooking Instructions:

1. Wash and chop vegetables.

2. Place them in a pot with water, salt, and pepper.

3. Bring to a boil, then simmer on low heat for 35 minutes (until beets are tender).

4. Add dill.

5. Puree the soup in a blender, until it's a creamy consistency.

6. Adjust seasonings to taste.  You can serve with a dollop of sour cream on top for extra flavor.


Balsamic-Glazed Beets


3 medium beets

1 onion

2 t. salt

1 T. olive oil or coconut oil

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

2 T. maple syrup

Cooking Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. Peel and chop beets.

3. Coat with oil, vinegar, syrup, and salt.

4. Spread in baking dish and bake for 1 hour, or until tender.




Christi Lehner, H.H.C., AADP, is a Certified Holistic Health Counselor accredited by the American Association of Drugless Practitioners. A Holistic Health Counselor is a nutritionist and life coach all rolled up into one. Christi studied Eastern/Western nutrition and modern health counseling at The Institute for Integrative Nutrtion in New York City and earned a B.A. in Honors in Communication Arts from Villanova Universty. A three-time marathoner and triathlete, an avid pianist, and a newly converted Red Sox and Patriots fan, Christi delights in helping her clients make nutrition and lifestyle changes that boost their energy, heal chronic illnesses, reduce stress, and make their bodies and souls extraordinarily healthy.

Christi can be reached at christi@bostonhealthcoach.com or 617.492.1489.


About Nourishing News

Note: the information in this newsletter is presented for educational purposes only. This information is not intended as a substitute for diagnosis and treatment by a licensed professional.  To suggest topics for future Nourishing News issues, please contact me.

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